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Henson slashes European arm

The Creature Shop is the only Henson asset remaining in the Camden offices

Courtesy of Broadcast
September 2, 2003

After the recent news of the Jim Henson Company's sale back to his children, the air of instability around the organization created by former parent company EM.TV and their cost cutting strategies, looks likely to continue. It appears the new management are finding it increasingly hard to rescue the company from it's troubled situation after an agonizing three year period of being an unwanted and under-funded asset, for sale to the highest bidder.

An insider at the company commented “it took everyone by surprise, from the bottom to the very top. EMTV had already raped the company by selling off properties like Sesame Street but the Henson family have no financial partner and admit they do not know what to do.”

During August, the newly appointed board of directors at Henson took the difficult decision to make major cuts at Jim Henson Television Europe, their subsidiary based in the United Kingdom. In an almost complete shutdown the areas of licensing, marketing, public relations and TV production are now closed leaving the Creature Shop as the only part of the company operating from it’s historic Camden offices. They will continue to be managed by Senior Vice President of Production for the Jim Henson Company, Pete Coogan.

Twelve key employee’s were made redundant and are amongst those who have left the Henson Company since the founder's children took back control. Most notably these include Angus Fletcher, President of JHTE and creator of much acclaimed Henson pre-school shows "The Hoobs" and "Construction Site". Also gone is Sophie Finston, director of development and Matthew Webb who was manager of European Brands and Marketing. Matthew has now formed his own independent production company "Creative Results", with comedians Richard Digance and Mike Osmond. They will be producing programming for the ITV network, based in London.

The developments have caused shock within the organization and the levels of closures and redundancies were unexpected. Although previous e-mails and statements circulating internally had hinted that some change would be inevitable. An insider at the company commented "it took everyone by surprise, from the bottom to the very top. EMTV had already raped the company by selling off properties like Sesame Street but the Henson family have no financial partner and admit they do not know what to do." There is now a global strategy to downsize the business further.

The following story was adapted by Luke Robbins from an original article for “Broadcast” by Michael Rosser.

 
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